The Law Firm of

Erin L.T. Ranney, PLLC

Attorney At Law

 
Phone:   (804) 318-1151  or (804) 212-5252
             
 

Taking criminal and traffic defense cases in Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Richmond, Henrico, New Kent, Hanover, Caroline, Hopewell, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Emporia, Greensville, Sussex, and across Virginia

 

Providing counsel on family law matters, including divorce, custody, visitation, support, and adoption

 

Providing estate planning services to those in Virginia, including wills, trusts, power of attorney, and advanced medical directives

Criminal Law Spotlight - October 2016

Larceny


Larceny - Also known as Theft

 

In Virginia the crime of Larceny is defined by statute.  There are 2 statutes that are the general larceny statutes, and then there are several other Code sections that are punished as larceny.  The central two are as follows:

 

 18.2-95. Grand larceny defined; how punished.

 

Any person who (i) commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more, (ii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of $200 or more, or (iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm's value, shall be guilty of grand larceny, punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than twenty years or, in the discretion of the jury or court trying the case without a jury, be confined in jail for a period not exceeding twelve months or fined not more than $2,500, either or both.

(Code 1950,  18.1-100; 1960, c. 358; 1966, c. 247; 1975, cc. 14, 15, 603; 1980, c. 175; 1991, c. 710; 1992, c. 822; 1998, c. 821.)

 

You see that there are actually three different crimes that fall under the rubric of Grand Larceny.  The first is when a person steals something directly from the person of the victim so long as the value of the thing is more than $5.  This crime is what we think of as your "purse snatching".  Note that it does not involve the use of, implication of, or display of any kind of force.  If those elements are present the crime becomes a robbery.  The second type of Grand Larceny involves the theft of any goods or "chattels" worth $200 or more and not from the person of the victim.  This is what we think of when we think of a thief walking off with your Ipod when you accidentally leave it sitting on the treadmill at the gym.  The third type of Grand Larceny is the theft of any firearm.  This crime is intentionally broad in scope and does not involve a value.

 

 18.2-96. Petit larceny defined; how punished.

Any person who:

1. Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of less than $5, or

2. Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of less than $200, except as provided in subdivision (iii) of 18.2-95, shall be deemed guilty of petit larceny, which shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(Code 1950, 18.1-101; 1960, c. 358; 1966, c. 247; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1980, c. 175; 1992, c. 822.)

 

Petit larceny is generall larceny of a thing with a value below $200.  It can also be a taking from the person of another of an item valued at less than $5.  Petit Larceny is generally a lesser included crime to Grand Larceny.

 

In order to prove a Larceny case generally, the Commonwealth must prove that 1.) There was a taking, 2.) of property, 3.) that belonged to another person, 4.) that had value, and 5.) the taking was with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.  There are additional specific elements depending on which type of the three the Larceny  is.  For example, in type two of Grand Larceny, the Commonwealth must prove that the item was worth $200 or more.  The value is considered to be the "fair market value" at the time of the theft.  Berryman v. Moore 619 F. Supp. 853 (E.D. Va. 1985).  The Commonwealth may establish that value through testimony of the owner of the property as to the price they paid when they purchased the item.  The Court should take into consideration any depreciation that may have occurred in the interim.  Owen v. Commonwealth, No. 1495-95-2 (Ct. of Appeals May 28, 1996). 

 

Other important points to consider:

 - The slightest asportation is sufficient to show a taking and an intent to take.  Welch v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 518, 425 S.E.2d 101 (1992).

- There is a presumption that if a defendant is in sole possession of recently stolen items, that the defendant was the one that stole those items.    Dickerson v. Commonwealth, No. 0090-00-1, 2001 Va. App. LEXIS 105 (Ct. of Appeals Mar. 6, 2001).

- A store does not have to wait for a defendant to leave the store before they can apprehend them for larceny of their goods.  The defendant need only move those items slightly and show an intent to permanently deprive the store of the items.  Welch v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 518, 425 S.E.2d 101 (1992).

- A jury can reasonably infer an intent to steal where the offender has no ability to pay when arrested.  Welch v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 518, 425 S.E.2d 101 (1992).

- Concealing merchandise, altering price tags, or assisting in either of these activities constitute activities that are punishable as either petit or grand larceny under Virginia Code Section 18.2-103.

- If a person commits their third or subsequent petit larceny, the offense is charge as a felony offense under Virginia Code Section 18.2-104 regardless of the value of that which is taken.

 

Larceny is a very serious crime and if you or a loved one has been charged with this crime having legal representation is important. Contact me today for a free consultation about your situation. 


Larceny Facts

 

Type:

Felony or misdemeanor  - both defined by statute.

 

Maximum punishment:

Felony -

Grand Larceny:20 years in prison and/or a $2500 fine

Petit Larceny 3rd+: 5 years in prison and/or a $2500 fine

 

Misdemeanor - 12 months in jail and/or $2500 fine

 

Interesting Facts:  Crimes of theft constitute crimes of "moral turpitude".  This means that any time a person testifies in court their truth and veracity can be called into question if they have been convicted of a theft crime. 

 

Interesting Fact 2: A number of fraud based crimes are treated like larcenies for punishment purposes.  Examples: Embezzlement and Obtaining by False Pretenses.